Attenuating pregnancy weight gain—what works and why: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ruth Walker, Christie Bennett, Michelle Blumfield, Stella Gwini, Jianhua Ma, Fenglei Wang, Yi Wan, Helen Truby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Excessive maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) contributes to generational obesity. Our aim was to explore efficacy and intervention characteristics (trimester, duration, frequency, intensity, and delivery method) of interventions to prevent excessive GWG. CINAHL, Cochrane, EMBASE, LILACS, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched up to May 2018 (no date or language restrictions). Keywords and MeSH terms for diet, GWG, intervention, lifestyle, maternal, physical activity, and pregnancy were used to locate randomized-controlled trials (RCTs). The Cochrane Collaboration tool for assessing risk of bias was applied. Eighty-nine RCTs were included. Meta-analysis (60 trials) estimated that women in diet only (WMD: −3.27; 95% CI: −4.96, −1.58, p < 0.01), physical activity (PA) (WMD: −1.02; 95% CI: −1.56, −0.49, p < 0.01), and lifestyle interventions (combining diet and PA) (WMD: −0.84; 95% CI: −1.29, −0.39, p < 0.01) gained significantly less weight than controls. The three eHealth interventions favored neither intervention nor control (WMD: −1.06; 95% CI: −4.13, 2.00, p = 0.50). Meta-regression demonstrated no optimal duration, frequency, intensity, setting, or diet type. Traditional face to face delivery of weight management interventions during pregnancy can be successful. Delivery via eHealth has potential to extend its reach to younger women but needs further evaluation of its success.

Original languageEnglish
Article number944
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2018


  • Diet
  • Gestational weight gain
  • Interventions
  • Lifestyle
  • Maternal
  • Physical activity
  • Pregnancy

Cite this